Over the past five years or so the issue of climate change has moved from a peripheral concern of scientists and environmentalists to being a central issue in global policy-making. It was the realisation that the way our economy operates is causing pollution on a scale that threatens our very survival that first motivated the development of a green approach to the economy. We are in an era of declining oil supplies and increased competition for those which remain. This raises concerns about the future of an economy that is entirely dependent on oil and a wider recognition of the importance of using our limited resources wisely. This was the other motivation for the development of green economics. In addition, greens have been concerned about the way an economic system based on competition has led to widening inequalities between rich and poor on a global as well as a national scale, and the inevitable tension and conflict this inequality generates.
A couple of years ago I was asked to give a presentation about green economics as part of a group of Welsh greens showcasing what Wales has been up to in the sustainability field. The venue was at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, although I gave Convergence on Zero (ppt, 5482 K)my presentation by videolink.
It is the key feature of a capitalist economy that it has to grow. Green economists are seeking to replace the growth economy with one in balance with the environment. The sort of economy we are building cannot, by definition, be a capitalist economy. Part of the reason for that relates to how money is created.
Instead of a globalised, ever-expanding economy, green economists seek to build a system of self-reliant and interconnected local economies. Much of the economic activity that is presently dominated by global corporations will instead be organised by co-operatives. We also have a very different view of how work should be organised and how land should be shared and used.
You can find a presentation with some ideas about how a green economist might respond to the public-spending cuts in a presentation I gave recently in Cheltenham (ppt, 3417 K) and another I presented in Freiburg (pptx, 5675 K)which argues that structural changes are necessary rather than merely energy efficiency and provides some information on the role Transition Stroud is playing in reinforcing the local economy of Stroud.
I've also recently put together a (doc, 30 K)reading list of key works in Green Economics that might prove interesting and useful.
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